|Anthrax (L-R) Charlie Benante, Scott Ian, Joey Belladonna, Frank Bello, Rob Caggiano (Supplied)
Anthrax are truly back among the living.
Thanks to the return of iconic vocalist Joey Belladonna and the release of 2011's Worship Music - their first album together in 21 years and a much-welcomed return to form - the thrash-metal vets are fully firing on all cylinders once again, says guitarist and founding member Scott Ian.
"It's pretty cool, I have to say," agrees the 48-year-old musician from behind the wheel in his adopted hometown of Los Angeles. "This is all we've ever wanted to be. This is what we do. So being given the chance to do this again at the level we're doing it is great."
And they're about to do it to Canada. Anthrax - which also includes drummer Charlie Benante, bassist Frank Bello and guitarist Rob Caggiano - are embarking on the longest Canadian tour of their three-decade career, hitting cities from Vancouver to Montreal. While navigating the freeways with 14-month-old son Revel - his first child with wife Pearl Aday, daughter of Meat Loaf - Ian discussed his father-in-law, following Angus Young's lead and who's to blame for Fred Durst.
Why did it take you eight years to make Worship Music? What happened during the quiet years?
That's the thing; there were only a couple of quiet years. Our last record came out in 2003, and we toured that for all of '03 and half of '04. When we finished, we went right into a reunion tour in '05 and '06. So we were on tour for three and a half years. After that, we took a few months off.
And in early '07, we started writing the record that would become Worship Music. We spent the next years writing, recording and figuring out the best way to complete this record.
Did you feel a greater sense of urgency with Worship Music because of the time that had passed?
No. From the earliest writing sessions, we just felt we had something really good. Having that time away turned out to be a good thing. Because when we got back in the room, things started happening quickly. It was just a case of figuring out that Joey was the missing piece of the puzzle.
Once he came back, he took it to a level that we felt we hadn't been on since (1987's) Among the Living. None of us knew what to expect when we heard Joey singing on new Anthrax material for the first time in 21 years. I couldn't even have imagined it was going to turn out that good.
You've have several vocalists, and Joey has come and gone over the years. Is he back permanently now?
Everybody's intention is that this is the version of Anthrax that will be the only version of Anthrax until there is no more Anthrax.
You guys take your music seriously, but your image is easygoing. Do you think you'd be taken more seriously if you acted like Metallica or Slayer?
Absolutely. We've never hidden our personas from the public. Whereas Slayer portray a certain image that totally works for Slayer. It's one of the things that's enabled them to be so successful for so long. I'm friends with those guys and (guitarist) Kerry King can be a complete goofball. But you're not going to see that when he's working. With us, what you see is what you get. We've never had an image. We just are who we are. And we're not afraid to show our sense of humour in our music, interviews and personas. We don't hide anything - maybe to our detriment.
Your music is physically demanding. And you're constantly running around onstage. How do you prepare for that?
Nothing has changed in terms of what I'm doing onstage. I've always used Angus Young of AC/DC as my touchstone. He's 10 years older than me. And as long as he's still banging his head and crawling around on the floor like a maniac, I've got 10 more years. I haven't lost a step, I can safely say that. But as far as what do I do? There's no way to prepare. Whether I box or run or just work out, nothing prepares you. You just need a week of shows and then you get back in shape.
What's it like having Meat Loaf for a father-in-law? I spoke to him once and it basically consisted of me saying hello, him jabbering at me rapid-fire for 20 minutes and then hanging up.
Um, that's pretty much what it's like having him as a father-in-law. He tends to get on a roll about something and you just sit back and chime in when you can. Initially, when Pearl and I started dating, I have to say it was definitely weird; when I was a kid I was a huge Meat Loaf fan. But I got over that quickly. He's just an awesome guy.
You and Public Enemy basically created rap-metal with 1991's Bring the Noise. Does that make you responsible for Limp Bizkit and Fred Durst?
I won't take any credit for that at all. Not at all. I would have to say after what we did with Public Enemy, Rage Against the Machine was the band that took some of that influence and went their own way with it. They created a new genre basically. And I say put the blame on Rage for anything that came after them.
Anthrax Canadian tour dates:
Sept. 20 | Vancouver | Vogue Theatre
Sept. 21 | Calgary | Flames Central
Sept. 22 | Edmonton | Event Centre
Sept. 24 | Saskatoon | Odeon
Sept. 25 | Winnipeg | Burton Cummings Theatre Sept. 29 | Toronto | Phoenix
Concert Theatre Sept. 30 | Kitchener | Elements
Oct. 2 | Montreal | Metropolis